Saturday, June 25, 2016

Back to New York

From 3-Michelin-Star Restaurants in Paris to the Muck of Jamaica Bay

Saturday, June 25 - Jamaica Bay

Flew back from Paris this week and started getting back into New York mode.  I hadn't missed a lot of birds but there were a few year birds on offer down at Jamaica Bay.  Decided to do a leisurely morning visit and wandered down to the preserve by about 8:45am.  The main target was a White-faced Ibis, a bird that had been found two weeks ago and seen on and off since then, but not for a few days.

Settling in at a nice shady patch in the phragmites at the South end of the East Pond I decided to just wait it out and see what came along.  There were a few Ibis around but all seemed to be Glossy Ibis.  I could tell though that there was turnover, with a Ibis or two leaving every 10 minutes or so, and a few new ones dropping in for a freshwater drink after feeding in the salt marsh.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
There were a couple of other year birds I was hoping for too, and they actually popped up pretty quickly,  A trio of Black Skimmers (280) swept past not long after I arrived, and some diligent scanning produced a single Gull-billed Tern (281).

Black Skimmer and Gull-billed Tern seen later from the "Raunt"
I was here fro Ibis though so every 5 minutes or so, I scanned the little group of Ibis on the far bank to see if the target bird had dropped in.  There were never more than 6-8 Ibis present, but while I was there perhaps 25-30 individual birds made brief appearances before heading off to feed again in Jamaica Bay.  After about 45 minutes, and scan 9 or 10, a White-faced Ibis (282) magically appeared in the little group.  Very nice ...

Crappy record shot - digiscoped at 70x on the scope (and extra zoom from the iPhone)
And so on to Big John's Pond, which had an intriguing bird I was curious to see (or more realistically hear).  The Blind (hide) at the pond was predictably full of photographers taking thousands of shots of the resident breeding Barn Owls, but I birded the area for a bit listening for quite a different species.

Barn Owls in Boxes ... pretty much how I see all my Barn Owls these days ...
The U.S. has good turtles ... Eastern Painted Turtle ....
The 'Other' Night-Heron .... Black-crowned ....
Standing quietly on the trail I could hear at last two Willow Flycatchers ("Fitz-Bew") and then, after drifting South a bit, I heard a distinct Acadian Flycatcher ("Pee-Zah").  A new bird for Queens County New York for me (Number 233).  It had been previously reported, an odd location for the species, but not entirely unsuitable habitat.  Good bird.

So after checking the West Pond, and toying briefly with the idea of going back to the East Pond, I headed back to the City.  When I got out of my car, I checked emails and saw that Ken and Suzy Feustel had just reported a Ruff from the East Pond.  Hmmmm ... I'd had such a good morning, seen all my target birds, I guess I should have expected a karmic rebound like this.  Still, there's always tomorrow .....

Sunday, June 26 - Jamaica Bay

Got to the East Pond at around 7:30am, and on the way got updates that Corey Finger had already seen the Ruff (yay!) but that he couldn't relocate it a little later (Boo!).  Spent the next four hours with many other birders carefully scanning the East Pond but alas, at least as of when I had to leave, no Ruff.

"So are you doing a big year?" someone asked while I was there.  "Never again" I replied.  It does seem that some have speculated through.  So let me give some context ....

By the end of June in 2012 my New York State year list was 322 Species.  Ironically, Ruff was that 322nd species, seen at Montezuma NWR on June 25th.  That's 40 species ahead of where I am this year.   Even if I did want to do a big state year, which I don't, I'm way behind the pace and have missed way too many rare, and not so rate birds already.  You can't just bird hard (which I am) in New York and build a big year total, Big Years are a completely different game requiring lots of chasing and few misses.

I do have a New York State goal for this year though, which was to see 300+ species and stay in the Top 10 of the NYS "Hot 100" on eBird.  Just something to motivate me, and so far I seem to be on track ... but another New York Big Year?  Hell no!

Just setting the record straight ....

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